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In Memoriam

  Alumni News  

Robert W. Smith ’35

Life trustee Robert W. Smith ’35died Nov. 9, 2002, in Sun City, Ariz. He was 88.

After earning a degree in math and engineering, he breezed through a four-year General Motors automobile engineering program in two years. He worked in the automotive industry for 38 years, retiring in 1973 as chief engineer of the transmission and chassis division at Ford Motor Co. A mechanic since high school, he also maintained and piloted a plane for several years.

He served on the Alumni Association board and was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1966 to 1991, serving as chair from 1976 to 1989. He received Cornell’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 1967. His generosity to Cornell has benefited dozens of students who have received a scholarship he established in memory of his sister, Viola May Smith ’29.

He is survived by his wife, Mabel; three daughters; seven grandchildren, including William Nemacheck ’91; and five great-grandchildren. His first wife, Melba Smith, an honorary alumna and honorary trustee, preceded him in death.


Alison Moore Swords ’35

Alison Moore Swords ’35, a descendant of Cornell’s second president, Samuel McGaffey Fellows, and one of more than 200 Cornellians in her family, died March 9, 2003, in Syracuse, N.Y. She was 88.

President Fellows (1859-1863) was her great-grandfather. Among Cornellians in her family were her grandparents, Alice Fellows Rigbyand Joshua Hopkins Rigby, both class of 1867, and her parents, Alice Rigby Moore, class of 1902, and Otis Moore, class of 1905. “When we were getting ready to go to college, it never occurred to us to ask the question where we would go,” Alison once said.

Introduced to the violin through lessons at Cornell when she was 6, Alison taught music in private lessons from her childhood until two weeks before her death, and in public school classrooms since 1936. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she attended the Juilliard School of Music and earned a master’s degree at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. She played in string quartets and symphony orchestras in communities where her husband, the Rev. John Swords ’49, served churches.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by five children and 11 grandchildren.


John K. MacGregor ’41

John K. MacGregor ’41, a retired surgeon and former chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees, died July 25, 2003, in Mason City, Iowa. He was 84.

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa, he earned a medical degree from Columbia University and served as a medical officer in the Army, helping with the reconstruction of Germany following World War II. Honorably discharged as a captain, he joined the University of Iowa as a teaching fellow in the department of anatomy, then completed a general surgery residency at the University of Wisconsin, and in 1951 returned to his hometown of Mason City to practice medicine, retiring in 1989.

He served on several boards, including 26 years on the Cornell Board of Trustees, acting as chair from 1989 to 1993. He was elected a life trustee in 1995 and was given the Alumni Achievement Award in 1977. He volunteered with Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) in Nicaragua, and he and his wife, Ann, served for two years on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Ganado, Ariz., with a Project HOPE program. He was dedicated to sports and fitness, especially skiing, sailing, and bicycling.

In addition to his wife, Ann, he is survived by a sister, Mary MacGregor ’45; sons John M. MacGregor ’67, Paul S. MacGregor ’71 (wife Barbara Martin MacGregor ’70), and Andrew J. MacGregor ’90; two daughters, including Laurie B. MacGregor ’74(husband Guillermo Cuellar ’76); eight grandchildren, including Sarah MacGregor ’99; and a great-grandson.


Chester R. (Chuck) Weber ’49

Chester R. (Chuck) Weber ’49, former director of deferred giving at Cornell, died July 5, 2003, in Dallas. He was 79.

He attended Cornell after serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross as a nose gunner in the China-Burma-India Theatre. He earned a master of divinity degree from Drake University and returned to military service as a U.S. Navy chaplain in 1953 until 1970, when he retired as a lieutenant commander.

He established the planning giving program at Cornell in 1974 and founded the Heritage Club. He retired from Cornell’s development office in 1985.

He is survived by his wife, Tela McFarland Weber ’78; five children, including Tela Weber Gatewood ’70and Joel Weber ’80; and five grandchildren.

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